Kosali language movement

TNN | Amava.Bhattacharya

With the elections about a year away, western Odisha finds itself in conflict with the rest of the state. Part of the issue is Kosali, a language yet to find a place in the Eighth Schedule. Amava Bhattacharya traces its genesis

Labour minister Susanta Singh on Tuesday sought the replacement of the word ‘Utkala’ in ‘Bande Utkala Janani’ with ‘Odisha’. By proposing this change in the de facto state anthem, the BJD leader from Bhatli in Bargarh has turned the lens on the aspirations of western Odisha, a region that is markedly different from northern and coastal Odisha that were part of the historical Utkala kingdom.

Western Odisha’s aspirations have ranged from better infrastructure to a demand for more political attention, to even a separate Kosal state. Central to its identity is the Kosali Language Movement, a socio-political and literary movement. While its literary goal – to prove that Kosali is a language and not a dialect of Odia – has more or less been achieved, its political goal – inclusion of Kosali in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution – is yet to be realized. With elections scheduled for early next year, political parties are expected to raise the emotive language issue to target each other and gain votes in a region that comprises almost half of Odisha’s population.

Kosali (also referred to as Sambalpuri or Kosali-Sambalpuri) is spoken in 10 districts of western Odisha – Bargarh, Boudh, Subarnapur, Jharsuguda, Balangir, Deogarh, Sambalpur, Nuapada, Sundargarh, Kalahandi and the Athamalik subdivision of Angul, besides Raigarh, Mahasamund and Raipur districts of Chattisgarh. For a long time, the language spoken in this vast region, part of the ancient kingdom of Dakshin Kosal, was considered to be a dialect of Odia, but the language movement led by writers, historians, politicians and linguists has punched holes in this theory.

Proponents of the Kosali Language Movement say it is a direct derivative of Sanskrit and belongs to the Ardha-Magadhi Prakrit group of languages as opposed to Magadhi-Prakrit to which Odia belongs. There is significant difference between Kosali and Odia in terms of morphology, semantics, syntax and phonology, they add.

“Kosali is a separate language. It bears as much resemblance to Hindi as it does to Odia,” says Tila Kumar, professor of sociology at the Delhi School of Economics. A frequent traveller to western Odisha, Kumar says he has seen first-hand the difficulties faced by students in government schools in the region.

“Odia-speaking teachers find it hard to communicate with students here. Certain words have different meanings. For example, ‘ghuri’ means kite in Odia but it refers to the village deity’s altar in Kosali,” he adds, attributing the lower exam success rate in this region, particularly in the Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput zone, to Odia and not Kosali being the medium of instruction in schools. In a memorandum submitted in 2011 to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Kosali Development and Discussion Forum, an organization working for the cause of Kosali, had listed education and administrative efficiency as a reason to seek official recognition of Kosali. “Civil servants from other areas who do not have rudimentary knowledge of Kosli language cannot communicate with citizens, resulting in miscommunication,” the memorandum says.

The Kosali Language Movement is a relatively young phenomenon that gained momentum in the 1970s and 80s. It brings to the fore questions such as what constitutes a language, what differentiates it from a dialect and how important language is to political aspiration, explains Pritish Acharya, a professor of history at the Regional Institute of Education in Bhubaneswar.

“A language gains from the number of works written in it and there has been an explosion of writing, drama and films in Kosali,” says Acharya, a native of Bargarh.

The literary journey for Kosali authors has been both fulfilling and rewarding. While it has always had a strong oral repertoire, the first written work in the language is a poem by one Madhusudan published in the magazine ‘Sambalpur Hitaisini’ in 1891. Verses were composed by a number of poets like Chaitana Das, Balaji Meher, Laxman Pati and Kapila Mohapatra in the early years of the 20th century. The poems were characteristic of Kosali works at the time in that they dealt mainly with rural life. A leading light in Kosali is Khageswar Seth, a dalit fisherman who wrote prolifically in both Sambalpuri and Odia. Caste equations coloured the Odia-Kosali binary as those working in the ‘dialect’ were looked down upon for primarily belonging to the ‘lower’ castes.

A major boost to the language was given by the All India Radio station in Sambalpur, commissioned in 1963. It broadcast programmes, especially music, in Sambalpuri and helped it gain greater acceptance. The following decades saw a flowering of works in Kosali. ‘Rangabati’ written by Mitrabhanu Gauntia become a household name. Sabyasachi Mohapatra’s award-winning ‘Bhukha’ (1989) became the first full-length feature in Kosali; the language got its first novel – ‘Bilasini’ by Dhanpati Mohapatra – in 1990 and Prayagdutta Joshi wrote his seminal ‘Koshali Bhasar Sankshipta Parichaya’ in 1991. Poet Haldar Nag emerged as an icon with his unique style and inspired the emergence of ‘Haldardhara’, a brand of poetry paying tribute to him. In 2012, the Registrar for Newspapers for India enlisted Kosali in its language list. Today, Sambalpur University offers a diploma course in Sambalpuri studies.

Despite being the second-most popular language in a state that is itself the first to be formed on the basis of language in 1936, Kosali has found it harder to notch up political victories. The year 2003 was a watershed moment for language movements as the Centre passed the 93rd Constitutional Amendment to enable the possibility of inclusion of other languages in the 8th Schedule. In the same year, it set up a committee led by Odia littérateur and IAS officer Sitakanta Mohapatra to determine the criteria for inclusion of more languages in the 8th Schedule. The committee submitted its report in 2004 and recommended the inclusion of 38 languages. Kosali/Sambalpuri is one of them. Eighteen years later, the fate of these languages remains unclear.

“The report of the committee is under consideration. No time frame can be fixed for the inclusion of more languages in the 8th Schedule,” reads the government’s official line.

While central recognition has proved to be elusive, state recognition, too, has been lukewarm. In 2014, days after the Centre declared Odia as the sixth classical language of India, the Naveen Patnaik government threw its weight behind Kosali and recommended its inclusion in the 8th Schedule.

Naveen has time and again pushed for the inclusion of Kosali in the 8th Schedule, most recently while campaigning for the Bijepur byelection in Bargarh district. But Odisha remains one of the few states to have only one official language. The Orissa Official Language Act of 1954 recognizes Odia as the official language of the state even though Kosali is estimated to have around 2 crore speakers.

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June 9, 2018 at 5:09 am Leave a comment

‘Rangabati’ music composer Prabhudatta Pradhan passes away

Following is a report from the TOI:

Music composer of popular Sambalpuri song Rangabati, Prabhudatta Pradhan, today passed away at his residence in Odisha following prolonged illness, family sources said.
Active in the field of music for 45 years, Pradhan had popularised Sambalpuri music and had bagged 14 prestigious awards for his contribution in the field of Samabalpuri music.

He had expertise in percussion instruments like ‘Dhol’ and ‘Mandal’.

The Rangabati song which earned him fame in 1975, was written by Mitrabhanu Gountia and sung by Jitendra Haripal and Krishna Patel.

He is survived by wife and two sons Ashish and Aseem.

Born in 1943, Prabhudatta started learning music under his father at the age of three. He was influenced by his father late Pravas Chandra Pradhan to sing bhajans or Hindu religious songs at home even though they were Christians. Pradhan learnt tabla from Pandit Jadunath Supkar at Benaras in Uttar Pradesh. He had joined the All India Radio (AIR), Sambalpur station as an instrumentalist in 1969.

May 31, 2018 at 4:07 am Leave a comment

Foundation stone laid for LPG bottling plant at Balangir

Following is a report from the telegraphindia.com:

Bhubaneswar: Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) will set up an LPG bottling plant in Balangir. This will be the BPCL’s second LPG bottling plant in Odisha.

Union minister of petroleum and natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan will lay the foundation stone for the proposed plant on May 21. Union minister of social justice and empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot will also be present on the occasion.

Regional LPG manager (east) Atul Kumar said: “We are committed to provide LPG gas to our consumers on time. We already have an LPG bottling plant at Khurda. This will be our second plant in the state that is going to be constructed in Balangir.”

The new LPG bottling plant will be constructed at Barkhani village, around 12km from Balangir railway station. The plant will come up on 23 acres and will have the capacity to produce 42 lakh cylinders per year. The plant is expected to be operational by March 2020.

Once commissioned, the plant will supply LPG cylinders to the consumers in 14 districts of Odisha – Balangir, Jharsuguda, Sundargarh, Sambalpur, Bargarh, Kalahandi, Sonepur, Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur, Boudh, Kandhamal, Raygada and Nuapada.

May 22, 2018 at 12:50 pm Leave a comment

Centre nod for admission in a 100-seat Balangir Govt. Medical College

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May 22, 2018 at 1:53 am Leave a comment

Odisha govt releases Rs 202 crore for proposed Kalahandi medical college and hospital

Following is a report from the TOI:

BHUBANESWAR: The state government has sanctioned and released Rs 202.39 crore for the proposed medical college and hospital in Kalahandi district.
With infusion of funds, the construction of the medical college will start soon, health minister Pratap Jena said.

The tertiary care heath institution will fulfill long-time aspirations of the people of the region. The people of the district and nearby regions will no longer have to travel to cities for advanced and specialised treatment, thereby saving on out-of-pocket expenditure on health.

It will also usher in a new era of socio-economic development in the region.

The minister said the project will be undertaken on Turnkey basis under supervision of works department. The state budget has allocated Rs 302.39 crore for the MCH and tendering process is set to begin soon. Ancilliary establishments like 300 seat men’s hostel and 150 seat women’s hostel, 100 senior resident and 60 seat hostel for nurses will also be constructed along with 86 residential quarters for faculty members and doctors. Besides, 150 seat nursing hostel, 36 quarters for paramedical staff and a 650 seat state-of-the-art auditorium will be constructed.

The construction of the hospital building will be undertaken by Vedanta Limited as per agreement with state Government. The cost of the project is estimated at Rs 100 crore to be borne by the company.

Jena said the Kalahandi Medical College is targetted to be completed and ready within two years.

The Kalahandi MCH will add 100 MBBS doctors to the strength in the state every year.

May 15, 2018 at 12:48 am Leave a comment

MCI team visits proposed Balangir Medical College

Following is a report from the TNIE:

BALANGIR: A three-member team from Medical Council of India (MCI) visited the proposed medical college and hospital here on Tuesday. The MCI team wanted to ascertain whether the available infrastructure in the college fulfilled the requirements for getting operational from the upcoming academic session.

The visit is significant especially when the aspirants are going to appear for NEET, the national level entrance test for admission into various medical colleges in the country, on May 7. The admission process may begin in July.The Medical Council team consisted of Nandaraja, Kamal and Gangadhar Gouda. Dean of Balangir Medical College and Hospital Lalit Kumar Meher accompanied the team during their visit. The team visited the college and hospital in two groups.

Team member Nandaraja accompanied by Medical College dean Lalit Kumar Meher visited the main hospital campus, including the medicine ward, surgery ward, TB department, casualty and the maternity and child hospital. The other team comprising Kamal and Gangadhar accompanied by Balangir chief district medical officer Sugyanendra Mishra concentrated on the outpatient department and some newly constructed structures near the main campus of the hospital.

April 26, 2018 at 4:12 pm Leave a comment

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